Kugluktuk to vote on whether to remove alcohol restrictions

A plebiscite in October will determine whether alcohol can be sold in the community.

Beer and wine stores on hold in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet ahead of cannabis legalization

Kugluktuk is currently a restricted community where an alcohol education committee approves permits to bring alcohol into town. (CBC)

A plebiscite will be held in October to determine whether alcohol can be sold in the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

Under the Nunavut Liquor Act, each community can choose its level of control over alcohol sales and consumption.

Kugluktuk is currently a restricted community, meaning residents need to apply to the local alcohol education committee for permission to order liquor.

Plebiscite on Oct. 22

In April, Nunavut's Department of Finance received a petition by 34 eligible voters in the community to remove the restrictions.

The Minister of Finance at the time, David Akeeagok, approved the request and took steps to launch the local plebiscite to make the switch.

The plebiscite is set for Oct. 22 and advanced votes can be cast on Oct. 15.

Residents in Kugluktuk will vote on whether to remove alcohol restrictions on Oct. 22. A plebiscite needs 60 per cent or more votes in favour to do so. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

"At the end of the day, it is the community's choice and government is here to enforce it," said Dan Carlson, assistant deputy minister of finance.

A plebiscite needs 60 per cent or more of the votes cast to be in favour before the system can change. If that happens, the Kugluktuk alcohol education committee will be dissolved and residents will be able to order liquor from warehouses in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit.

"If anyone wants to understand the mechanics of the vote, who can vote, how it happens, Elections Nunavut is who to contact because they administer the process," said Carlson.

The government expects to hold public community discussions in late September or early October. Government officials are working with the hamlet to determine the date of the town hall meeting.

Baker Lake was the last community to vote in favour of removing alcohol restrictions, in January.

Iqaluit's beer and wine store opened last September. Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet residents voted to have government-run stores in their communities in May 2017.

Beer and wine stores still in the works

As more communities consider removing liquor restrictions, Nunavut's larger hamlets are in favour of opening beer and wine stores that will be operated by the territory.

Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet residents voted in favour of having government-run stores in their communities in May 2017, but Carlson said residents will have to wait until Nunavut figures out rules for cannabis retail and licensing.

Nunavut plans to have cannabis available through online sales when federal legalization comes into force on Oct. 17.

"We expect cannabis regulations to keep staff busy into the fall," Carlson said.

Iqaluit's beer and wine store opened last September.